There seems to be this ongoing idea that mental health services are readily available to all those who need it. This idea is sadly untrue. It shouldn’t be but it is the reality. The damaging effect of this concept is the portrayal of those with mental illness as not really wanting the help. If I had a penny for every time I heard, “Well, if they really needed the help, they could get it.”, I would be rich and then I could easily get the help I needed. Mental health treatment can be costly, even with insurance.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I needed to seek help. Now, my husband and I both work making decent money. We aren’t rich, but we just eek into the middle class bracket. I have decent insurance from my husband’s company. So when I called to set up an appointment, I was not expecting the dent in my wallet that came with it. You see with the insurance I have my appointments are not covered until I meet my deductible. Our current deductible is $1,500 per member or $2,500 for the family whichever comes first. For the average American family, that is a huge amount over money with my family being no exception.
So, since I had not yet met my deductible, this means I have to pay out-of-pocket. For my intake appointment alone, it was $125. For every appointment thereafter if will be $68.50. Based on where my deductible is at now, it will take me 4 appointments to reach it. However, by the time we reach that it will be a new year and I will be back at square one. This is just for sessions with the therapist. This does not include common treatment expenses such as:
- A session with the psychiatrist
- Regular bloodwork which, depending on the medication is every 3-6 months
- Transportation (I have my own car, but not everyone does)
Now, I understand that some of these things fall under a different part of my coverage, but there is still a cost until my deductible is met. Something also to consider is, not everyone has insurance, they may have a higher deductible, or there may not be a practice that takes their particular insurance. While there may be some who qualify for some kind of medical assistance, I do not because we make too much. We fall into that hole of not making enough to cover it, but too much to get assistance.
This is a shame. It is not that because I don’t qualify for medical assistance. I understand it is for low-income families who need it because of various reasons. However, my going to therapy is not a luxury. This isn’t like plastic surgery or getting my nails done. This is a medical necessity. I NEED the help. I NEED this medication to function. I NEED the therapy so I can be a productive person. I often think that the stigma that mental illness is not real is what keeps so many of us from getting the help we need. If treatment for mental illness was accessible as it is perceived to be, more of us would seek it.
2 thoughts on “Just out of Reach: The Cost of Help”
I hate to get all political here, Lauren. I so feel your pain. (in many ways) So, politically, our government has the ability to take control of this issue, with single payer coverage. Not all politicians are fans. President Obama, when he first tried to fix the insurance mess, attempted single payer, but congress shot it down. Essentially, it’s like medicare for everyone, and it’s a great idea!!! No insanely expensive hidden fees…No more insurance companies sucking Americans dry…So, I will end here, telling you that if you like how all that sounds, check out Bernie Sanders, and VOTE! I’m sorry if this is sort of comment offends. I hope you are feeling better soon. You are awesome! xo
I agree. I’m Canadian and people here believe that health care is as easy to get for mental illness as it would be to get a sinus infection treated. Not so. It’s bad enough that we have to fight to break down the stigma but we have to fight for treatment that will hopefully (won’t even guarantee!) help towards stability. Excellent article Lauren.